Suzannah O'Reilly Mullaney artist who recently launched Parallel Editions
Although, I am not from Limerick originally I have spent over 25 years studying and working here.
In fact, I was born in Mexico, but when I was seven years old my family moved to Moycarkey, a small village just outside Thurles, Co Tipperary. For my education I went to Pouldine National School followed by the Presentation Convent in Thurles, for secondary school. Subsequently, I graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) with a degree in Fine Art Printmaking and 10 years later, I completed an MA in the same subject at the Crawford College of Art and Design, in Cork. Today, I live in Killoscully, Newport, Co Tipperary, with my husband, Bill, and our four children Alannah, Caroline, Malachy and Jack.
Today, I am grateful for the combined efforts of my upbringing, my third level education, the community of artists that I belong to, and the continuing support of my family.
These are all part and parcel of who I am and what I do today. Indeed, my first introduction to the art world was through my father, Paul M. O’Reilly, a painter, curator of Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA) and administrator of EVA for many years. It is safe to say that he was very influential, not only for me, but also for my three sisters. They have also followed his example with careers in the arts.
I had great tutors at LSAD namely; Jim Sheehy, Dietrich Blodau and Coilin Murray.
Together they instilled in me a great passion for printmaking when passing-on their skills. Jim would often tell stories of the time he used to work in Hollander’s Workshop in New York printing for elite artists such as; Willem De Kooning and John Cage. As a young student these fantastical stories painted a picture of an exciting and attainable career in the field of printmaking. Eventually, they sparked off the idea of working in a fine art publishing house myself.
In 1999, Limerick Printmakers (LP’s), was founded by three LSAD graduates, namely; Melissa O’Brien, Kari Fry and Claire Boland.
They provided a much needed workshop for printmakers and artists, in Limerick, to rival the other centres in Dublin, Belfast and Cork. Over the years LP’s have gone from strength to strength, building a community of artists who now play a very active role in creating and promoting printmaking here. I have been a member since they opened and have been on the board of directors since 2010. Today, when I am not teaching or giving workshops at LP or LSAD, I am creating and making my own work. In particular, I exhibit my prints regularly through solo and group shows. I have, also, taken part in many projects and events, working through LP’s active programmes. The ‘24 Hour Print Project’, for example, has taken place in Limerick, Cork, and in Avilés, Spain.
Myself, and colleague Brian Fitzgerald, are both members of the Printmakers, as well as being intrinsically passionate about the subject.
Two years ago, we set a goal for ourselves, to start a Fine Art Publishing business together in Limerick. This was the start of ‘Parallel Editions’ (PE). PE produces Fine Art Limited Edition prints of the highest standard in collaboration with artists and corporate bodies. In this, we strive to promote Irish contemporary prints nationally and internationally. Although, a daunting task our enthusiasm, and the steadfast support of family and friends, has seen us through. In fact, in the last eighteen months, we have succeeded in building a portfolio of prints, with eight established and experienced artists, together with a website to showcase our business. We officially launched PE in LCGA on 10 November this year and will have another launch in Dublin in the New Year. The launch was our debut in the public domain enabling us to reach a wider global audience. We now hope to build on these established areas in the future and to expand on the number of artists with whom we work, (as well as the services that we provide), for our prospective clients.
There are always obstacles to tackle with any new business but we continue to be optimistic about the future.
Local support has been great thus far. Indeed, we believe that the business will expand sooner rather than later, taking on interns, and training-up printers to assist in the production process. While we are selling luxury items we still believe that our investment in art/prints will continue to be rewarding and worthwhile. There is support out there for small businesses when you look for it and also some specific networking groups for women in business. Criteria needed that did not apply to our business, and a lack of understanding and insight about our objectives, led us to battle for long periods on our own. That said, this struggle also gave us the option of working at our own pace, with the result that we regained complete operational control.
Recently, I began planning and executing my own project, involving some 20 members from LP’s Exhibition; ‘Plan A and Plan B’.
The artists /printmakers taking part working individually, and in collaboration, produced a unique body of work that highlighted contemporary Irish printmaking. The 49 prints, making-up this exhibition, were exhibited both in LCGA, and in Clonmel Co Tipperary. I was, also, invited to exhibit the show at IMPACT 9, (International Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking, Artists, Concepts and Techniques), a biennale for an important Contemporary Printmaking Conference, in Hangzhou, China, in September 2015. Turning all of my talents to developing printmaking into a business, has provided me with an ideal job. Responsibility accompanied by a great sense of achievement have been my rewards!
For more information about ‘Parallel Editions’ please see: www.paralleleditions.ie